Pastor’s Preview for August 14, 2016

Hi Friends,

How’s your backstroke?

For the nearly the last week many of us have been glued to the Olympics in Rio. We’ve watched the top athletes compete on the world’s biggest stage. We’ve seen villains fall and heroes rise. The competition, the drama, and the pageantry grab us. It really is amazing that for 17 days more than 11,000 athletes gather from 200+ nations in one place to celebrate the beauty of sport. What a gathering!

As I look towards this weekend I’m struck by the fact that on Sunday at 10am we will gather for worship and hold a different celebration. There likely won’t be thousands of us, but together we’ll come around a table set simply with the bread and the cup. Together we’ll remember Christ’s death and we’ll give thanks for His saving work. This week we’ll gather. We’ll come with our hurts and our joys. We’ll come together to remember and to celebrate. There won’t be a medal ceremony, but we will enjoy the Bread of Life.

This Sunday, too, we’ll be looking at the importance of the Lord’s Supper in our worship. Together we’ll examine Paul’s words to us from 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 and we’ll hear a word of challenge and a word of hope. Following God’s Word we’ll participate in that meal. A simple meal, yes, and yet a meal through which God gathers us into a new community. For in this meal He makes us a covenant people – a gathering greater than any Olympiad. I hope you’ll be able to join us.

One quick note before I sign off – a reminder that you are invited to join a small group who prays here at church on Sunday at 9:00am. Together we lift up the ministry and the future of Fuller. We’d love to have you.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

Pastor’s Preview for July 10, 2016

Hi Friends,

I hope that you had a great 4th of July weekend. My family and I spent the time at home as we enjoyed the Hollyhock Parade outside our door, lit fireworks in the front yard, and got more and more ready to welcome our new baby girl in a little over a week.

Last Sunday we looked at Colossians 2:6-15 and saw how God promises to fill the emptiness we experience in life with true fullness that only comes from Jesus Christ. We saw too that our baptisms are the initiation rite we go through as we are welcomed, both infant and convert, into the family of God. If you happened to miss the message you can listen to or watch it online on our website – www.FullerCRC.org.

This week we’ll consider that next step many of us take once we come to believe in Jesus. As we come to believe that He is our Lord and Savior we often share that news with others. We often profess our faith to each other. We testify to God’s work and His love in our lives. On Sunday we’ll look at how God gives us power and strength to testify to His goodness. Our text will be the story from Acts 4:5-22 and if you can read it before church on Sunday. Even better yet start reading back at the beginning of Acts 3 and you will get a richer understanding of the whole story.

A reminder – we’re in the middle of our Tuesday Family Nights. If you haven’t yet, come on out in the next few weeks and share a meal with a neighbor. This week we’ll welcome Crusader Martial Arts as our entertainment. I even hear we should have fried chicken…

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

Pastor’s Preview for July 3, 2016

Hi Friends,

This past Sunday we looked at how God calls us to live out an ethic of Love. Too often we’re tempted to simply fall into one of two camps. We either want to follow all of the rules or none of the rules. We tend to be people who are either legalists or rebels. But as we saw in Galatians 5, Paul calls us to a higher way. He calls us to live out the greater commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We discovered that when we do that we will find freedom as God’s children and we’ll fulfill the rest of the law as well. Just a reminder, if you happened to miss the message this past Sunday or any of our messages in our I Heart Worship series you can always find them at www.FullerCRC.org under the Media tab.

On Sunday we’ll look at another element we often find in our worship – the sacrament of Baptism. We’ll see how in our baptisms God introduces us to a richness of life that we were lacking. Whether you were baptized as a baby or as an adult believer or you’ve got questions about baptism come on out on Sunday as we dive deeper. I encourage you to read our passage ahead of time too – Colossians 2:6-15. I looking forward to unpacking it with you.

A quick reminder – we continue pray and ask God to show us the next steps he has for us as a church. You are welcome to join us in that prayer on Sunday at 9am in the room next to the church office.

Finally, I hope that this weekend provides a great opportunity to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy with friends and family. Keep safe and enjoy.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

 

 

Pastor’s Preview for June 19, 2016

Hi Friends,

This week is a big week for our denomination. Fuller Ave. Church is one of roughly 1,100 churches across both the United States and Canada that make up the Christian Reformed denomination and this week people representing every corner of the denomination are gathering here in Grand Rapids for a yearly meeting called Synod. Over this week a number of important conversations are being held. Conversations about same-sex marriage, racial reconciliation, and several core beliefs held by the church dominate the headlines – some rightly so.

As they meet it’s important that we as people of the church, as members of Christ’s body re-commit ourselves to at least 3 key tenants:

  • God reminds us that we are called to be members of one body, the Church. Together we make up one unit and even in our differences of thought, desire, and belief we are still one. Division is not an option that is available to us because God makes us one. We are his church. You are his church. All of us are his church whether we are male, female, young, old, gay, straight, racially diverse or white as can be. We are his church. And the Church is the bride of Christ whom he loves.
  • God reminds us that we are called to give him glory. We’re called by the writer of the Psalms to praise the Lord with all that we have and all that we are. This Sunday we’ll have an opportunity to do that together as a community, and I also hope you can express that praise throughout your week. If you need to hear that call to praise God – see Psalms 144-150.
  • God reminds us that we are called to go and make disciples. Together we are called both to gather for worship and to scatter on mission. As the church we are both people who come together to praise our God and he then entrusts us with the good news to share. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” – Matthew 28:19. We are a gathered and a scattered people. Gathered for his glory and scattered with his gospel.

Sometimes we can lose sight of these truths of our faith and so we need reminding. Please keep this gathering in your prayers.

This Sunday we’ll continue in our series I Heart Worship as we look at how we arrive at a place to confess our sins to God and hear his words of forgiveness. Often in our worship as we move out of a time of praising God, as the songs show us just how amazing he is, we recognize that we are broken people. As God’s greatness is contrasted with our brokenness we are driven to confess our sin to him. On Sunday we’ll look at Psalm 32 and uncover the impact of our sin, the power found in confession, and the hope that arrives with forgiveness. I’m looking forward to walking through it together.

Also two quick reminders:

  • A group will be gathering for prayer at 9:00am on Sunday morning before the worship service. Join us as we lift up the needs of our church, our neighborhood, and our world.
  • Following the morning worship service this Sunday we’ll hold a very brief congregational meeting in which we’ll have the opportunity to hear from Rev. Matt Postma as he highlights his new position as an Associate Chaplain at Calvin College and you’ll have the opportunity to extend a call of ministry to my wife, Rev. Samantha DeJong McCarron for her new role with the denomination as the Vocational Ministry Assessment. Here’s a link for more information on this new position.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

 

Pastor’s Preview for June 5, 2016

Hi Friends,

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I spent much of my time outside enjoying the sunshine and working in the yard. In many ways it was a weekend of getting back to basics.

This Sunday we’ll be doing some of that in our worship as well as we being a series entitled I Love Worship. This summer we’ll be getting back to basics as we spend some focused time looking at how we worship. Over the next several weeks we’ll dissect different elements we typically have in our worship services and explore how God speaks to us through them. This week we’ll begin by looking at how God greets us in worship. To get us on the right path we’ll hear God’s word from Isaiah 43:1-7. If you have an opportunity I encourage you to read through the passage before Sunday. Throughout this series we’ll consider how our worship is fundamentally shaped by the good news that God loves us and that we are His. I hope you can join us as we move from week to week.

One last note, as we enter into summer and we take time to rest and play I encourage you to continue to carve out some time to pray for wisdom and discernment as we seek God’s vision for us as church. A reminder that if you’d like to join me in this prayer on a regular basis I invite you to join me each Sunday morning at 9:00am in the council room. Let’s lift up our future in prayer together.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

 

Pastor’s Preview for May 29, 2016

Hi Friends,

There is a video online that’s gone viral – maybe you’ve seen it. It’s known as the Chewbacca Mom (here’s a link). As of this morning the original, as posted by Candace Payne, has been viewed more than 148,000,000 times. The video captures Candace’s pure joy and it is that joy that is contagious. Since the video has caught fire Candace has been welcomed on Good Morning America, featured in the New York Times, and appeared on the Late Late Show with James Corden. Her joy is simply infectious. It’s free and raw and real.

As Christians we’re told in the bible that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). But too often we walk around with too little joy. Our work demands press forward. Our schedules need to be kept. Joy takes a back seat. This week as we kick off our summer with the holiday weekend, I hope you’ll experience joy. Laugh along with Candace – maybe even pick up a Chewbacca mask of your own.

Last Sunday Pastor Morris preached the good news that the Holy Spirit guides us as we follow after the Lord. If you happened to miss it I encourage you watch or listen to it via our website – www.FullerCRC.org.

This Sunday morning we are happy to welcome back Pastor Ruth Romeyn who will be preaching from Hebrews 12:1-11 and her message is entitled “Scorning the Shame.” As for the evening service, I’ll be preaching on Acts 8:26-28 as we look at the beauty found in the sacrament of baptism.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday and I hope you have great joy this weekend.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

Pastor’s Preview for May 8, 2016

“After he said this, he was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going…” – Acts 1:9-10a

 

Hi Friends,

The church calendar marks today as Ascension Day – 40 days after Easter when we remember how Jesus was taken up into heaven. There on a mountainside the disciples were left in His heavenly wake and we read these words, “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going…” They were looking intently after Him. In many ways this is exactly what we’ve been doing in our Re: Vision series. Over the last few weeks we’ve dove into the calling story of Samuel as we try to look intently after Jesus.

This Sunday we’ll continue on in our series as we explore the message God gave to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:10-18. There we hear God speaking words of judgement upon Eli and his family. Together we’ll consider how Samuel must have felt receiving this message and then having to share it with his mentor, Eli. If you have a chance read through the passage and ask yourself how you would have felt delivering this harsh news.

This week in our worship service we’ll also draw names for our new Elders and Deacons. As we move towards Sunday join in in praying that God will bless these incoming leaders. Finally, I invite you to join me for a time of prayer at 8:45am as we seek God’s vision for us as a church.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

Pastor’s Preview for April 24, 2016

Hi Friends,

Last Sunday we looked again at Samuel’s calling story in 1 Samuel 3:1-11. We spent some time considering the fact that Eli, the priest, struggled to see because his eyes had grown weak. We saw that the author of the text likely used this line to describe both a physical loss of sight, but also as a metaphor as Eli had lost the ability to see God’s leading for the nation of Israel. We were then left asking the question – how is our eyesight? If you missed the message you can listen/watch it on our website – www.FullerCRC.org.

This coming Sunday we’ll take a step further into this story as we look at the next several verses that focus on God’s call to Samuel (verses 4-10). If you have a moment, read the passage again and ask yourself how well do you hear God’s voice? When it comes to big life decisions about your job, your kids, your health, or your home – how well do you hear God’s voice? This week we’ll be looking at the challenge we face when we seek God’s vision for our lives or for our church, and yet we struggle to hear his call. I look forward to unpacking it with you.

A reminder too – you’re invited to join a group of us on Sunday before the morning worship service as we pray and seek God’s vision for us as a church. This week we’ll gather at 8:45am in the council room.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

Pastor’s Preview for April 17, 2016

Hi Friends,

Spring is here! Finally the frozen pause on life is no more. As the grass greens and the flowers pop, I’m called back to our series on vision. Each year new life bursts into bloom and much like the newness of Spring you and I, together as the church, need to take some time to examine the vision we follow. Last Sunday we began by exploring how God’s Word roots any and all visions that come from the Lord. The Bible and ultimately Jesus are the primary sources of God’s special revelation to us. If you happened to miss the message you can always catch it on our website at www.FullerCRC.org.

This coming Sunday we’ll move on in our passage from 1 Samuel 3:1-11 as we look at the importance of God’s lamp mentioned in verse 3. Today in our electrified homes we can take light for granted and yet more than 3,000 years ago light was a cherished possession. In leading up to Sunday, I encourage you to read the passage again and ask yourself what role this lamp might have played. And if you have the opportunity, take a moment one upcoming evening and spend some time in the dark. I look forward to unpacking this part of the text with you.

A couple of quick reminders, this week following our morning worship service you’re invited to join a number of us as we discuss our Book of the Quarter, Daring Greatly. We’ll be talking about chapters 3 and 4. You can find us in the choir room downstairs. Secondly, you’re also invited to come to a time of prayer for our Next Steps as a church. A group will gather in the Council room at 8:45am to pray and you are welcome to join.

Finally, this Sunday we’ll also celebrate the baptism Simeon and Andrea Rowland’s daughter Georgiana. I hope you can join us as we welcome her into the life of the church.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate

Pastor’s Preview for April 10, 2016

Hi Friends,

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Spring Break week, even if it feels more like February than early April. As a family we got away to Chicago for a few days of rest and fun. I’d like to thank Pastor Morris for leading us in worship this past Sunday as he examined the continued good news of Easter. If you happened to miss his message you can catch it on our website – www.FullerCRC.org.

This coming Sunday we’ll be launching a new series entitled “Re:Vision”. Together we’ll spend the next six Sundays exploring how God has a unique, powerful, and attractive future for us. We often talk about capturing a picture of this future as discerning God’s vision for us. The great news is that God has a vision for your life and for mine. He has a vision for our life together as a church. Unfortunately, it gets a bit sticky when we try to discern God’s vision for our individual lives and the life of the church. Over the next 6 weeks we’ll walk through some of that stickiness as we dig deeply into the origin story of Samuel the prophet, as found in 1 Samuel 3, and discover how God communicates His vision to us.

If you’ve wrestled with your own personal life calling or if you’ve sat through meetings wondering about the future of an organization or even our own church this series is for you. My prayer is that through the next several weeks we’ll unpack how God shares the unique and attractive future He has both for us as individual people and as a church. I hope you can join us Sunday as we begin this journey together.

Just a reminder, you are invited to join me in a time of prayer on Sunday morning at 8:45 AM prior to our morning worship service. During this Next Steps prayer time we gather to lift up our current ministries and seek God’s leading as we begin exploring His vision for us as a community. We’ll meet in the council room.

One quick note, this Saturday at 3:00 PM we will hold the memorial service for Jeri Hoek as she passed away in a tragic accident on March 5th.  As we anticipate this time of both celebration and sadness, I ask that you join me in lifting up Doug, the rest of the family, and the community here at Fuller as we continue to wrestle with this loss.

I look forward to seeing you this weekend.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Nate